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FREE Video Editing Software: The Six Best Free Programs

One of the most common questions I get is, “What is the best FREE video editing software?”

video editing

People want to edit their video on the cheap!  Fortunately we can do that these days.  Read on for advice on which free video programs are high enough quality to be a bargain at twice the price.

Windows Movie Maker and iMove are the two most common “free” programs.  They come pre-loaded if you buy either a new Mac or PC.  If you want to buy iMovie without the computer, it’s part of a suite of programs (iLife) that sells for around 70 bucks.  That’s not free of course, but we count it as free when it comes preloaded.

Movie Maker is not for sale, but I have heard rumblings that Microsoft is going to beef it up and offer it for sale.

At this point in time, iMovie is LOTS better IMHO, but WMM is a decent little program.  If that’s what you have easy access to, it will do the basics.  In comparison to others it’s fairly limited.  You can NOT do green screen with it for example. iMOvie can not do green screen either.

video editing computer

The video editing market is full of dozens of additional free video editing programs.  Are they any good?  Yes, some of them are fantastic.  Others are unstable and difficult to use and this list will help you steer clear of them!

Listed below is a collection of my top 6 free editing programs that you can download and begin using right now.  Click on the title to each one to be taken to its download page.  Many of the sites feature more free software than just the one program I have mentioned.  You can also get free conversion software and other helpful programs.

LIST OF FREE VIDEO EDITING PROGRAMS

1.  TABZS4

–> TABZS4 is a free video editing and compositing tool from Zwei-Stein. It uses a timeline, like most all video editing programs.  It has more functionality than Windows Movie Maker as you can apply filters for special effects lie “Green Screen’ (or Chroma key), distortions and color manipulations.

2.   Wax –

Another free tool with fairly powerful editing and compositing abilities. This is actually quite a flexible tool along the same lines as Blender but isn’t as complicated as Blender so it’s easier to learn. Wax can be used as a stand-alone editor but can also be used as a plug-in to larger video editing tools such as Vegas and Adobe Premier.

3.   Video Spin

Video Spin is the free video editing tool from Avid, which acquired Pinnacle. Avid is truly a long time industry leader in making editing software.  In the professional world, their products are considered superior and have been for a very long time.  Video Spin is one of the more promising free video editing tools on the market because it comes from Avid.  The software is actually a low functional version of Pinnacle Studio that has been rebranded and given away.

4.  Avidemux

One of the more stable and complete free tools available. Apart form being able to cut and handle video it can apply various filters for special effects.  Of the programs on this list, this one is probably the most complete and stable.

It also exports to quite a few different formats such as DVD, MPEG2.  One drawback is that it does not support multiple audio tracks.  Certainly it is much less functional than a big package such as Adobe Premier, but whadda ya want for nothing?

 

5.  Blender –

Blender is a powerful, multi-use editing/compositing and modeling tool. It’s one of the best freebies on the market.     This tool that will allow you to edit, create 3D graphics, add effects, manage your sound and render out your movies.  That’s more than most free programs can handle.

The problem with Blender is that it’s complex and not easy to learn. Honestly, this is the nature of the beast though.  What makes video editing complicated is when it can do so much neat stuff!  So if you want to be able to wow the world with awesome digital editing and do not mind a steep learning curve, go for blender!

6.  Hyperengine-Av

This is one video editing program that breaks the mold a bit.  They call it “trackless editing” and it works on a Mac. It does away with the multi-track time line concept and replaces it with a trackless set-up. This means that things like audio and video, transitions and effects can be placed randomly across the timeline without being stuck on a particular track in the timelines. It makes for a different-looking editing layout!

Now one word of caution:  If what you want to do is complicated, you may need more than one software program to create your final vision.   It is quite common to import graphics, effects or animations made in another program.  It’s also common to need another program for file conversion, either into or out of your edit program.  The more advanced the program, the more likely it is to cover all functions.

That said, don’t be fooled by the fact that some of these are free – they are good pieces of software.  To get this kind of digital editing power for free is really quite remarkable.

Especially if you are new to video editing, take a look at these free options.   You can gain tremendous experience and learn a lot about video editing without ever going beyond the free tools on this list!

Who said video making was expensive?

I hope these free video editing tools will help you.

Thanks for reading Video Production Tips.

Lorraine Grula

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Lorraine Grula


Lorraine Grula enjoyed a fast-paced, multifaceted career in the television and video business, producing, shooting, writing, and editing documentary-style videos in both news and corporate settings. Later, she got to teach media and video production in two high schools, which then morphed into instructional design and corporate training. Lorraine is now dedicated to sharing her vast knowledge with others who wish to learn the art of video making, with an emphasis on storytelling and creating professional-quality videos for the internet as simply, yet creatively as possible.

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  1. Lorraine

    Very good of you to post a review for free video editors. This is a huge time saver for novice video editors.

    WAX was the first editor I used even before I used WMM. I liked it and thought it worked very well. I didn’t know it could be used as a plugin – pretty cool!

    BR
    Woody

  2. Hi Woody!
    Thanks! I get so many questions from people wanting wanting to know what the “best video editing program” is and of course there is no one single best program. A free program for a beginning editor is probably best for people on a budget! Video editing programs have quite a bit in common with each other, similar layouts and similar basic principles. If you learn one of these free programs, then you can more easily learn a more sophisticated program later if you wish to continue on with video editing. I went to your site and see you use camtasia. I like camtasia a lot, but the problem with it is people get confused and think it is a standard video editing program and it is not. It is for screen capture videos. If you want to edit a video taken with a regular video camera, then one of these free programs would be much better for you than camtasia. I think camtasia is actually one of the easier programs to use but it still has a learning curve.
    Lorraine

  3. Right-on Lorraine

    When I started out in the video editing arena I started with the freebie WAX for my own personal videos. I later moved on to WMM when I found it on a new PC that I purchased. I like both of these editors, they serve their purpose fairly well. After playing around with WAX & WMM for awhile I realized that I wanted to create some videos from my PC but needed a different editor and a screen capture recorder. Through an acquaintance I heard about Camtasia so I picked up a copy and have been using it for about 9 months.

    I did some work for myself with Camtasia which my acquaintance liked so I began doing work for him. From that I decided to turn it into a little business.

    From my experience Camtasia is a pretty good editor but like all applications the longer you use them the more likely you are to find their weaknesses. All-in-all I like Camtasia and continue to use it for my screen capture videos.

    BR
    “W”

  4. Hey Woody.

    Many thanks for the additional insight.

    For screen capture videos, camtasia is great. It is not nearly as hard to learn as something like Final Cut. But the biggest asset of camtasia is not its editing functions, but its ability to do screen capture. Most video editing programs do not do screen capture at all.

    I find a lot of frustrations with the precision of camtasia but once I got used to it, those problems were very easy to work around. I like camtasia, don’t get me wrong, but so many people tout it as the end all and be all of video editing and that is grossly inaccurate. It is for SCREEN CAPTURE VIDEOS. In that class, it is probably the single best, It’s just that video editing is so much more than screen capture and camtasia gets talked about so much I do not think people really understand that.

    Thanks again. I always love insightful comments. Good luck with your business. Editing on camtasia for folks is a good service because a lot of people can benefit from having a camtasia video. I thought your prices were a tad low, but hey, we all love a bargain!

    Lorraine

  5. Hi Gary.
    Good to see you. Thanks for stopping by. You are the free editing software guy! If people are reading this, I’d like to recommend your site for even more info on the subject of free video editing.
    Lorraine

  6. Anyone know of a good video editor for underpowered computers? My Netbook can’t run HD video without huge amounts of lag, so I’m not able to use most video editors with HD content.

    I’m hoping there’s a video editor out there that gives you an optional low resolution preview so that you’re able to cut, edit, etc without having the power to actually display the source videos.

  7. Hey Jesse.
    You ask a very interesting question! I do not know of any such editor programs. Having a low-res preview would be a good idea, but you have to have some kind of preview or you would be editing blind. Technology issues aside, in order to edit video you have to see your source video. A low-res image would suffice if you were already well-familiar with your source video, but a lot of considerations go into whether you edit in one clip or another, and being able to see it well is a pretty integral part of the process.
    How well does your computer do with SD video? SD video with good lighting looks better than HD video with crummy lighting. Seriously. Especially if you’re doing online video, SD and small file sizes have many advantages. The benefits of HD can sometimes get lost on folks watching online or on tiny mobiles devices. HD shines on the big screen where you can really appreciate the better resolution. So it depends on where you’re being viewed.
    Thanks for your question. I hope this answer helps you!
    Lorraine

  8. The 3 trackbacks – well the 1st one goes to a bad page – and you only have 6 listed – not 8. And you have the title of your article stating the best 8 programs but opening line in the article you say you have the best 6 listed?

    Confused!

    But grateful!

    Thank you so much –

    Peace

  9. Hi Kim.
    I appreciate your comment, sorry to hear you are confused. Please let me clarify. The 8 comes from having counted Windows Movie Maker and iMovie. I speak of those two in the first few paragraphs but did not give them a paragraph. I only gave the other 6 a paragraph and a link, since they have pages where you can download them but iMove and Windows Movie Maker do not. I hope that makes sense! Thanks.
    Lorraine

  10. Have you heard of Lightworks, another top free vid editor? What do you think of it?

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